Designing with IQ Combiner or Q Aggregator

Jun 26, 2017

Designing with IQ Combiner or Q Aggregator

Each improvement to the Enphase System brings time savings and materials savings to the installer. Within the IQ System, the latest generation of Enphase technology, we replaced a four-wire cabling system with plug-and-play two-wire cabling. A double-insulated polymer enclosure for the IQ Microinverter enabled us to eliminate the grounding conductor. Adding line-to-line communications between the Microinverters and the Envoy eliminated the neutral wire. These changes have helped make Enphase smarter, lighter, and faster than ever.

While standardizing around a system that reduces electrical parts count and provides greater installation flexibility, we recognize that installers have been busy standardizing workflow at the job site. That’s why we created the IQ System with two radically simple design options for installers to link branch circuits from the rooftop to the electrical service panel, the IQ Combiner (available now) and the Q Aggregator (coming Q4 2017).

In this post, we’ll describe each of these products and provide reasons why some installers will opt for IQ Combiner while others may prefer Q Aggregator.

Designing with IQ Combiner

If you’re already installing Enphase with the AC Combiner Box, a durable, prewired enclosure that consolidates interconnection equipment for systems with the Envoy-S, you’ll immediately recognize the benefits of the IQ Combiner. The two products are strikingly similar, but with one big difference. IQ Combiner houses an IQ Envoy that’s compatible with the IQ Microinverter, enabling the production and consumption monitoring and energy storage control that you’d expect from an Enphase combiner.

If you haven’t experienced an installation with an Enphase combiner box, here are three reasons to learn more.

Standardized, reliable installations

Instead of bringing one box for combining branch circuits, a second box for the revenue-grade meter, and a third box to hold the Envoy, IQ Combiner puts all networking and metering equipment into a single, UL-certified enclosure. The product also provides peace of mind with a five-year warranty.

Fast, reliable system communications

The preconfigured IQ Combiner improves system availability by completing electrical and networking connections in a controlled factory setting and minimizing installation variables at the job site. Installers can connect any combination of up to three branch circuits of IQ Micros or IQ Batteries within the enclosure.

Perfect for systems with energy storage

The IQ Combiner makes an Enphase customer storage ready, simplifying the connection of IQ Battery circuits alongside solar installs or for future system upgrades. When you do connect storage to the IQ Combiner, pay attention to best practices on configuring current transformers (CTs). We always recommend installing the optional Consumption CTs, as this data gives the system owner more insight about their energy usage and will significantly help size the correct storage system later.

Designing with Q Aggregator (Coming Q4 2017)

Some installers prefer to use their own outdoor enclosures to house interconnection equipment and may wish to concentrate on reducing the assortment of electrical components on the roof. The Q Aggregator was created to maximize value for these installers. Q Aggregator is a roof-mounted box that replaces the standard junction box and includes internal 20 Amp overcurrent protection for up to three branch circuits. This allows running a single set of output conductors, Line 1 and Line 2, in the homerun along with the equipment grounding conductor (EGC) required for the array’s non-current-carrying metal parts in the racking and modules. The Q Aggregator includes a grounding lug for connecting your EGC to the racking or modules.

Here are three reasons to connect with your distributor or participate in an upcoming Enphase training event to learn more about Q Aggregator.

Realizes the promise of a plug-and-play solar install

A single Q Aggregator can support up to 11.5 kWac of rooftop solar, including branch circuits spread out across multiple sections of a customer’s roof. Q Aggregator not only eliminates the need for installers to stock a variety of parts on the electrical bill of materials—including junction boxes, cable glands, breakers, conductors, and conduit—it neatly splits out roof labor from electrical work.

Improves design flexibility

In the IQ System, a single branch Q cable can be fed to the Q Aggregator at any position along a branch circuit where an open connector is available. This process of dividing a circuit into smaller branch circuits, known as center feeding, improves design flexibility by mitigating excessive voltage rise and improving AC line losses.

Enhances system reliability

In Microinverter systems, the transition from rooftop AC wiring is always done in a J-box. Installers and electricians can choose from many hardware options to terminate and transition to homerun field wiring, such as wire nuts and terminal blocks. This can introduce inconsistencies across a fleet of systems and, in time, may lead to unreliable connection points. Q Aggregator eliminates this risk by accepting Q Cable connectors or Field Wireable Connectors on branch inputs and using an easy-to-connect clamp-style connector that doesn’t require tools or torquing for homerun conductors up to 4 AWG in size.

Additional Resources

The Enphase website is fully stocked with support for installers who are transitioning over to the IQ System. Resources include data sheets, installation guides, component lists, and more. Our technical brief, Planning for an IQ Microinverter System, has lots of helpful tips, including sample photos and descriptions of third-party enclosures for housing the IQ Envoy in systems with Q Aggregator.

For a full list of resources, visit the solar professionals support page and type: IQ.

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